In the past four years, the Star Trek franchise has gone from a struggling movie franchise to a complete return to the glory days of the 1990s. In the '90s, Star Trek dominated the sci-fi landscape with feature films and no less than three different TV series. Today, just four years after the lukewarm reception of the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond, Trek is arguably the biggest it's been in at least two decades.
Need proof? Star Trek's prominence at both San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con has grown exponentially since 2017. And this, year, despite the fact that SDCC will operate remotely, the Star Trek Universe panel is on the top of everyone's Comic-Con list. As the Lower Decks debut date approaches, and Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 looms, here's what you can expect from the big Star Trek panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2020.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for the Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 finale. Lots of speculation follows.
How and when to watch the Star Trek Universe panel at SDCC 2020
The Star Trek Universe panel begins Thursday, July 23 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time/1:00 PM Eastern Time. You'll be able to stream this panel for free on the SDCC YouTube page right here.
With that out of the way, here are four big reveals we're hoping to see...
4. Discovery Season 2 live-reading could hint at Season 3
The first event listed as part of the Star Trek Universe SDCC 2020 panel is "live read of a Discovery season two script." This live-reading will include nearly the entire cast of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, and will cover the first act of the Season 2 finale, "Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2." This live-table reading of the script will be followed by a virtual Q&A for the cast; including stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Ethan Peck, Anson Mount, Jayne Brook, Tig Notaro, Wilson Cruz, and others.
Right now, the Discovery segment of the SDCC panel does not mention Season 3, even though Season 3 is still expected to debut sometime in late 2020. That said, the fact that there is a live reading of part of the Season 2 finale could point toward some Season 3 discussion. Here's why.
In case you'd forgotten, the crux of this episode dealt with the USS Discovery and the USS Enterprise fighting off the rogue Section 31 fleet which was being puppeteered by the evil A.I. know as "Control." The result of this stand-off required the Discovery to jump 930 years into the future to keep the secrets of Control from destroying the present and killing all sentient life in the far future. Basically, the seeds for Season 3 are sown right here at the end of Season 2.
In "Such Sweet Sorrow Part 1," it was revealed that the USS Discovery was already, at least, partially, capable of running itself without a crew. This could foreshadow the possibility that the full-on self-aware future-tense USS Discovery from the Short Treks episode "Calypso," could be explored in Season 3. Will the cast talk about the friendly A.I. (Zora) who runs the ship in the far future? Will any more notions of time crystals be mentioned?
Although this live-reading retreads familiar Discovery territory, it could set-up some very big spoilers for the incoming Season 3.
3. Lower Decks will go into a full-hype mode
Because this panel happens just two weeks before the big premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, it's safe to say that a few full clips will be presented by showrunner and creator Mike McMahan. It's doubtful that any spoilers will be spilled by the Lower Decks cast and showrunner, but because it's the next Trek series happening, it seems reasonable that it will get the lion's share of the attention on the panel.
2. Picard Season 2 will probably reveal at least one new cast member
The cast of Star Trek: Picard is scheduled to round-out the Star Trek Universe panel with a "discussion of what the future might hold" for Season 2. This means that Patrick Stewart, Isa Briones, Michelle Hurd, Alison Pill, Jeri Ryan, and the rest of the La Sirena gang are going to talk about the scripts and stories being written write now for Picard Season 2.
Now, this is possibly the only big convention appearance the entire cast of Picard will make this year, "together." So it feels like some kind of big casting announcement is imminent. Last year, the fact that Jonathan Frakes, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco, and Brent Spiner were even on the show rocked the Trekkie world harder than anyone expected. With so much chatter about the possible return of more TNG-era Star Trek characters for Season 2 of Picard, it seems like a decent bet that at least one very familiar actor from Star Trek's past will Zoom-bomb the panel and reveal they returning. Will it be LeVar Burton? Michael Dorn? Gates McFadden? Who knows, but when it comes to Picard Season 2 casting, it seems like a good time to expect the unexpected.
1. A big surprise nobody sees coming
Although the panel doesn't mention Strange New Worlds directly, it feels like some kind of news about that spin-off series could also be mentioned at some point during the Star Trek: Universe presentation. But beyond the things everyone knows about, there will probably be at least one thing nobody saw coming. The Noah Hawley Star Trek feature film has been quietly in development for a little while now, could there be some crossover news about that? Could the success of Picard have led to another '90s-era Trek getting a similar sequel series — a series about Captain Janeway from Voyager? A Deep Space Nine sequel? Could that miniseries about Khan return from the dead?
Since 2017, Star Trek panels at various conventions have gained a reputation for huge twists that surprise everyone. From the revelation that Michael Burnham was Spock's sister to the return of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, these panels tend to exist like a cloaked Klingon warship. You might know it's out there, but you really don't know what it's going to do next.
You can tune-into the Star Trek Universe panel on Thursday, July 23 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time/1:00 PM Eastern Time on the SDCC YouTube Channel.